Latin at Bard

Latin at Bard

Latin, the language of Virgil, Cicero, and St. Augustine, was the lingua franca of the Western world for over a thousand years. First scratched onto stone and bronze objects in the seventh century BCE, Latin developed into a flourishing literary language that in the Classical period encompassed (among many other forms) epic and lyric poetry, history, drama, biography, and philosophy, and was the language that governed the Roman Empire. Latin is the common root of English and many other modern European languages, which developed out of a shared linguistic heritage and whose connections the study of Latin can help us understand. 

Latin/ Classical Studies

Latin, the language of Virgil, Cicero, and St. Augustine, was the lingua franca of the Western world for over a thousand years. First scratched onto stone and bronze objects in the seventh century BCE, Latin developed into a flourishing literary language that in the Classical period encompassed (among many other forms) epic and lyric poetry, history, drama, biography, and philosophy, and was the language that governed the Roman Empire. Latin is the common root of English and many other modern European languages, which developed out of a shared linguistic heritage and whose connections the study of Latin can help us understand. 
 
Since it is no longer a living tongue, Latin is taught in a different way than most other languages offered at Bard: students acquire fluency in reading only, not in speaking or listening. Their goal is to read great literary and historical works in the original language, rather than communicate their own thoughts and ideas in a foreign language. As a secondary objective they will attain a thorough understanding of grammatical structures found in all Western languages, as well as a familiarity with the linguistic roots that make up much of modern English and its linguistic neighbors German, French, Spanish, and Italian. 
 
Beginning Latin is offered every year at Bard, either in an indivisible two-semester sequence or in a double-credit intensive version in one semester. Because of the special needs of language learning, classes meet four days a week, rather than the two or three typical of other Bard courses. No prior knowledge of the language is required. The course is designed to advance students through levels of grammatical complexity, such that they attain an ability to read standard Latin authors by the end of the first year. Second-year Latin courses focus on introducing students to poets and prose authors whose works have the broadest relevance to modern culture, yet whose styles are relatively easy to master. These include the first-century BC poet Catullus, who brought the first-person voice into Roman poetry in his signature mix of invective and erotics, and Cicero, the master of Roman oratory. In the third year of language study, students are equipped to read virtually any author in the canon of Latin literature; courses at this level are often thematically oriented and in the past have included Ovid: Love and Metamorphosis; Roman Medea, and The Origins of Rome. Courses at the 300 and 400 level also give students the tools to do close reading and scholarly research about Latin texts, and include a mixture of translation, in-class discussion, and interpretive writing.


Faculty contact and profile information may be found here.
Sample courses may be found here.

Additional Studies

Classical Studies Program

Classical Studies Website

For the last two hundred years, Classics has been the study of the ancient Greek and Latin languages and the histories, literatures, and cultures that produced them. Classics is an interdisciplinary field of study, approaching the ancient evidence from a variety of perspectives: students interested in language, literature, history, anthropology, philosophy, and art history have traditionally used the tools of these disciplines to understand the ancient Mediterranean world.